donderdag 8 december 2016

Bernard Magnouloux: Travels with Rosinante

Bernard Magnouloux: Travels with Rosinante (Frankrijk, 1988): 206 blz: Uitgeverij The Oxford Illustrated Press

Travels with Rosinante by Bernard Magnouloux"Travels with Rosinante" is het verhaal van de ongelooflijke tocht die de Fransman Bernard Magnouloux maakte op de fiets rond de wereld tussen 10 mei 1981 en 7 januari 1987, waarbij hij 77.000 km aflegde en zo'n 50 landen bezocht.

Magnouloux begon zijn monstertocht met een tocht van een half jaar door Zuid-Europa en Noord-Afrika, vervolgens doorstak hij Afrika in de lengte: van Caïro naar Kaapstad, een vlucht naar Buenos Aires, langs de Andes naar Mexico.

In Mexico onderbrak hij zijn tocht gedurende een jaar om in Frankrijk geld te kunnen verdienen om zijn tocht af te kunnen maken. Vervolgens fietste hij door de Verenigde Staten en Canada, vloog van San Fransisco naar Hong Kong en fietste door China, Tibet, Nepal en India naar Pakistan waar hij het vliegtuig naar Istanbul nam.

Het laatste stuk was opnieuw door Griekenland en Zuid-Europa naar huis. Zijn tocht kostte in totaal slechts zo'n 25.000 gulden.

Natuurlijk maakte Magnouloux van alles mee gedurende zijn tocht: problemen bij douanekantoren, problemen met de fiets, aanvallen van tsee tsee vliegen, een beroving, enorme gastvrijheid vrijwel overal, ontmoetingen met collegafietsers.

Zoals gebruikelijk geef ik weer een aantal citaten:

- In Asterix the legionary, I remembered, it said that the stronger the army, the worse it's food. If that is the case the Sudanese army must be pretty weak: it's food was delicious!

- "Now, I have to warn you, the area is infested by lions and, last week, a local cyclist was eaten alive. If you don't believe me, you can go to Chipata morgue and ask to see his remains: by that I mean the bicycle, which the lion couldnt eat." At that he smiled, but instantly resumed his serious mask. "If you persist in your foolish enterprise, I shall give you good advice. In case you meet a lion, you'll have to salute it in the Chichewa way: you must kneel down, clap your hands and say "Mulibwanji", which means "How are you?". If the lion answers "Nilibwino", which means "I'm fine, thank you and you?" you're OK, but if the lion doesn't answer, then you'd better pedal very fast!"

- The chief was teaching me other words of Chichewa (just in case the lion spoke first), when the women brought some more n'sima. With it came a plate in which, because of the dark, I could only just discern long black things.
"Now in your honour, we will have a dessert," said the chief.
"Oh yes, and what is it?"
"It's a local delicacy. These are rats, help yourself to one!"
I couldn's believe I had heard correctly until I brought the long black thing up to my face. It was indeed a rat! Complete with skin and tail, bones and insides, head and ears and teeth; dead, yes, but complete! Were they making fun of me? Me, a rich European being fed by poor Africans, was I being made to feel ashamed?
A glance around persuaded me this was not a joke: the men were sharing the rats. Being the guest, I was the only one to have an entire animal...
Because I have always been a diplomat, I bit into the rat. I could clearly feel the fur on my lips and the bones between my teeth. But it was good. A delicate taste. I was told the recipe: the rat is boiled for several hours and dried in the sun. It gives it the taste of a dried sausage -well, of a furry sausage. My difficulty in fact, was to eat without looking at it, for then, it was truly enjoyable -except that is for the head which was hard to chew because of the teeth and the tail which got stuck between two of my molars. I had to dispose of that discreetly behind my back.

There was still the problem of the left side of my moustache: since Santiago I had had a west wind and it had succeeded in bending the left side of my moustache so that I could not eat without chewing it. To prevent that I had had to attach it by a string to the spoke-nipple earring which I word in my left ear.

In some countries indeed a western bicycle, no matter how special, can be sold for a good price and customs officers noted her in my passport when I came in, to ensure that I took her out. Thus the Tunesian customs wrote: "Vu à l'entrée, vélo usagé (Seen on entry, used bicycle)" and very honestly, two months later: "Vu à la sortie, vélo très usagé (Seen on exit, very used bicycle)".

Na zijn beroving:
"You are very lucky," he added. "You must understand that this state is the poorest in the United States of Mexico and that the proximity of Acapulco and its luxury is a permanent provocation to violence. ... And you are still alive, don't complain!"
"You are the third to be attacked this month in the same place, but you are the first one to escape alive. One man died from a bullet in his belly, small calibre, it probably took him quite a long time to die ... The second one lost his head, I mean literally, from several machete blows ... So you see, you should be happy to have lost only a few dollars, your cooking utensils and a Sudanese turban! As a matter of fact, if I was in your situation, I would probably take advantage of it an go back home to kiss my mother while I was still alive!"

Het boek wordt afgesloten met 40 bladzijden met informatie over boeken, wegenkaarten, fietsenmakers en praktische informatie over de route voor wie de tocht (of een gedeelte daarvan) zelf wil nafietsen.


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